Baseball has its roots in a variety of older bat-and-ball games popular in 19th century America like cricket or Old Cat. This set gathers a small selection of images of baseball's forebears, which eventually led to the "18 players (nine on a side)" format we know and love today.

Some of the game's earliest years are chronicled in over 500 photographs, prints, drawings, caricatures, and printed illustrations donated in 1921 to the New York Public Library by early baseball player and sporting-goods tycoon A. G. Spalding (whose name to this day is printed across every ball used in the National League).

Explore the full Spalding Collection on the NYPL Digital Gallery and through this finding aid (PDF) from our Manuscripts and Archives Division.
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